By. Lexiii Dee
Atlanta artist Michael Aristotle sat down with Lexiii Dee for an exclusive interview.
Reminiscing back to 2014, that was the year Lexiii Dee came to life. The year I finally decided I wanted to do something that would help me get closer to what I loved, writing and music. At that time, I created my own site that I used to help artists build their own fan bases and be able to have their music heard from people all over the world; one of those artists being Michael Aristotle.
Michael Aristotle was one of the first rappers I have ever wrote about when I started my brand and ever since then, I have continued to follow his journey as an artist. The ATL rapper has been growing rapidly and with the growth, his sound has been improving more and more each record or project I listened to. While visiting Atlanta 2 weeks ago, I had the pleasure of being invited to Michael Aristotle and Wili Hendrix's humble abode and have a sit down with him to discuss everything that's been happening over the years. Get to know Michael Aristotle in this written interview below.
How did the name Michael Aristotle come about?
I used to hangout with this girl and I always had a thing for her. She was the biggest Kanye West fan ever so I would play nothing but Kanye West albums. One day while hanging out, listening to his albums, she told me about her name from the Kanye name generator. I thought that s**t looked hard. So I put my rap name at the time which was Y.Teezy and Malcolm Aristotle came out. I was like eeh it sounds cool if I flip the Malcolm to Michael because a lot of greats were named after Michael. Originally, it was a funny name I'd keep in my head and I never had any intentions of changing it. I told Wili [Hendrix] and he was like "Oh yeah! That s**t is fire!" Few months later, Wili was like change your name to Michael Aristotle. I argued with him on the phone for like a good hour about it. About a month later, I had so much new music that I just wanted to start afresh; that I was headed in a new direction. So I changed my name to Michael Aristotle.
Why did you start making music? What pushed you to become a rapper?
I just wanted girls. Of course when I was little, music was around but I never had no thing for rapping or whatever. Me and my friends would play around rapping at school, just seeing what words we could make rhyme. Just out of some fun s**t. Not on some we're trying to be rappers. This was in middle school and that's the time you find out who you are at the moment and I just wanted to be the cool dude. When you think of cool, automatically you think about rapping. When I'd like a girl, I'd write poems for them. One day, I wanted to write a song because I thought if I can write poems, I can do that. I did it then rapped for my friends and they were like you can really rap. I continued writing over the years and in 8th grade, I made up my mind and decided I wanted to be a rapper. When they told me I could really do this, I thought that was my purpose.
How would you describe your sound?
I never know because it's always evolving. I never try to make the same thing so I never know the exact sound for it but I can tell you what places have has a big influence like Atlanta, because I grew up here as well as California. The connection I had with the weather and everything just affected my music and my mind about things. Also New York, I was born in Brooklyn so my style, my voice, everything like that originates from there.
Moving on to your recently released LP Mega Millions, what was the inspiration behind it?
We just had a ton of songs and I didn't know what to do with them. Wili [Hendrix] suggested that I create an EP but I didn't know what to call it. One day, on the phone, We were trying yo figure out what to call the collection of music and he was out of town in Chicago and he had seen a lottery billboard. I believed it said Mega Millions on there and when he said that I wasn't too sure about it but it did have a little ring to it. I literally went to sleep on it and took a nap. I woke up and I kid you not the first thing I said was Mega Millions. This is what the music feels like. The ambition of wanting to be rich, to live a rich life. In the project, you find out that being rich isn't really the life because so many people in the Mega Millions lifestyle are not happy. It's just realizing that before I do get into Mega Millions and just thought f**k it. We'll make a cool concept behind it.
Now I discovered you when you dropped What Tomorrow May Hold EP. The growth shows significantly and shines through on Mega Millions. How do you personally feel about where you are heading through your music? How do you feel about your progression as an artist?
I feel like it just keeps getting better and better. Every time I realize that I am, I know I can get even more better. I just want to try everything that I can. I don't know my actual sound or where any of this is heading but in the end, wherever this is heading, I want people to say I have a powerful discography. That people would say even at this moment, he wasn't up to par but you can see the growth. Where I'm heading right now, I'm in a crazy place musically. There's so much I want to do. Everything sounds more confident, more aware of things. I think I'm heading in the right direction.
Tell me more about East Chain. What is it?
It's a collective of me and my best friends that do music. One day, Wili [Hendrix] insisted that instead of waiting for somebody to get us, lets just kick the door down. We're going to make our own label and I was down. "East" for the east side of Atlanta and "Chain" from Golden Chain Drive, which is where I started working with Wili at 16 and continued building from there. East Chain just sounded real. It sounded like what we wanted to do. It's basically just a collection of people that make art. Sort of like a new platform for individuals just like us.
You and Wili Hendrix have worked on a lot together and he was also the executive producer of your recently released project. How did the connection come about?
[laughs] This story is so awkward. I met him when I was 12 and we were in this empty hallway. We were the only two kids that went to our lockers in the morning in middle school. We had lockers by each other and I would open it and just happen to see him [laughs]. I was like what's up and he was like what's up? I'm so and so. I would be like I'm so and so. From there, that was just my n***a. We didn't have any classes together but we'd see each other around and just say what's up because we were both just positive people. Around 9th grade, he started to learn about engineering and producing. The end of 10th grade, he was switching schools but he would invite me to come over and record and I was like okay I guess, but i never did. For the first two months, I would just send him songs and he'd mix them. One day, I went to his crib and we recorded like 5 songs. We just worked super fast. He would challenge me. Since then, every single weekend, I'd be at his crib just working.
Who are some influences that you feel has shaped you into the artist you are today?
I would say my favorite rapper of all time, Biggie. Just the way he would rhyme things were so cool to me. That's my influence on figuring out how to make things rhyme and sounding cool; him and Jay Z. Also, Drake and Gambino because I grew up listening to them. Drake inspired me to be honest in my music. Be normal, be yourself, be real. That's how you stay original. For Gambino, he inspires my mind to create and be good at what you do. He just has a very dope work ethic. All those people combined.
You recently announced a new EP titled Toni. What can we expect from this project?
Hella bars. This is the most confident I've ever sounded. I'm talking some s**t on here. I did on Mega Millions but not like this. This is more aggressive and it's the perfect balance between aggressive records and records you can just really dance and vibe to. I never really had a collection of songs that people could really party to. Outta nowhere, we just wanted to make something for the summer. So we were like f**k it, lets drop something and lets call it Toni. Lets drop that.
Toni is available for pre-order on iTunes now and can be found on other streaming sites September 1st.
Special thank you to Michael Aristotle and Wili Hendrix for their time.
Follow Michael Aristotle on social media.